OZ Cabbie November 2014
Despite signs that state regulators have stepped up their action against UberX drivers the illegal service continues to grow. Most concerning to our industry is the increasing number of taxi drivers who, lured by Uber’s propaganda, have signed up to it, ignoring that they will lose their taxi driver accreditation if they are caught.
In Sydney this month there have been ‘war councils’ galore to rally against UberX. The most successful was organised by the NSW Taxi Drivers’ Association at the Cyprus Club. It attracted around 150 people and featured local and interstate speakers: drivers, NSW Taxi Council CEO, Roy Wakelin-King, a senior manager from Transport for NSW, Anthony Wing and hire car operator Russell Howarth, the former London copper who has been upsetting the establishment and Uber by making citizen’s arrests of UberX drivers around the city. Uber, demonstrating its contempt for the Government and the industry, placed an electronic sign promoting UberX across the street from the meeting. ABC News and the Sydney Morning Herald caught it all on camera. Full story in War councils galore as our fight against UberX intensifies.
“Peer, it seems at last Oz Cabbie has hit the international headlines! ‘Cos presumably it’s the Oz Cabbie journalists that Uber is going investigate. And rightly so, long overdue LOL!”
So wrote Sydney taxi driver activist Ted Hirsch following reports a senior Uber executive in the US had stated at a dinner that the company would spend a million dollars to dig up dirt on journalists who dared criticise it. Read more on this fascinating ‘own goal’ in Jungle Drum under the heading “Uber commits hara-kiri”.
I also received a letter from Roy Wakelin-King accusing me of misquoting him in last month’s article “The fight against UberX is turning enemies into frenemies” and demanding I correct the record immediately. I had written “... he wants the networks to stop providing drivers with job destination” and “Also fearing a jump in driver shortage he wants to lower the training and testing requirements for new drivers to make it easier to become accredited”. I wasn’t quoting him; I was making some rather careless assumptions. For that I offer my unreserved apology. Noticeably, his letter didn’t refute what I had written or clarify his position.
Now to the Victorian State election on Saturday 29 November. If you don’t live in Victoria you may not give a hoot about the outcome. Well, you should! It could be the first time in history that an election has been decided by a group of furious taxi industry stakeholders.
My totally unscientific gestimate is that there are around 40,000 licence owners, operators, drivers and members of their families who are thoroughly pissed off with the Napthine Government’s taxi reforms and its handling of Uber. If enough of them live in marginal seats they could well be what sends the Government packing, making it the first in Victoria since 1955 to get kicked out of office after only one term.
Acutely aware of this the Labor Opposition has published a Taxi Policy Statement, which has many taxi people in absolute rapture. Tim Hoi is reading between the lines, is not all that impressed. Read more in Labor’s taxi policy statement spoiled by ambiguity, doublespeak and platitudes.
And then there is Fels and Cousins! Remember them? They are at it again this time turning the Western Australian taxi industry on its head. More in Now the dynamic duo “Fels & Cousins” are targeting the WA taxi industry
There is heaps more news inside, but I want to finish by warning those drivers who have contacted me and anyone else out there thinking of following Russell’s example. PLEASE DON’T. He is a professional; he knows how to deal with lawbreakers and with police. If you try it, you are likely to put yourself in danger or be the one arrested.